PORT ANGELES — Bail for a man accused of setting fire to his own home while two others were inside was set at $20,000 in Clallam County Superior Court on Wednesday.
Andrew G. Helman, 58, remained in the Clallam County jail for investigation of arson Wednesday after the fire at 833 Cottonwood Lane east of Port Angeles on Tuesday.
Charges are expected to be filed Friday at 1 p.m.
No one was hurt in the fire, authorities said.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steve Johnson requested bail be set at $20,000 because he said Helman has the potential to commit violent crimes if he were released.
“The allegation is that he set a fire while two other people were inside,” Johnson said.
Helman caused the fire because of perceived threats from the roommates and believed it was necessary to protect himself, said Harry Gasnick, chief public defender.
Helman told deputies he believed his roommates were going to shoot him, so he lit his clothes on fire in his closet, court documents say.
He then left the home through a window and went down the road.
When questioned, Helman’s roommates told deputies there hadn’t been a conflict and that Helman was having some mental health issues.
Helman was previously found incompetent to stand trial for a driving under the influence charge earlier this year, Johnson said.
“There’s some mental health aspect going on here,” Johnson said. “Mr. Helman indicated he stopped taking his medication.”
Helman told deputies he had barricaded himself into his room for five days without food and had pushed his dresser in front of his door to keep him roommates from going in.
Helman told deputies setting fire to his house was the only way to get his roommates to leave, court documents say.
The roommates reported that Helman had been threatening to burn down the house for a few days.
Firefighters were called to the fire at about 12:30 p.m. to find smoke pouring out of the house, said Mike DeRousie, assistant chief for Clallam County Fire District No. 2.
Helman was arrested shortly after 1 p.m.
County records show the property is appraised at $63,783.
The fire stayed in one room of the house, said Jake Patterson, battalion chief.
The room was filled with plenty of flammable material, creating a potential for a fire that could have taken the home, he said.
The roommates had used a garden hose to spray the room through the window before firefighters arrived.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.